An endless selection of the same thing


While shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift for my wife, I started off in a nearby candy store that carries quite a selection of chocolate. Surely, I figured, they’d have a few boxes of dark chocolate, which she prefers to milk chocolate or (gasp) white chocolate. Well, I canvassed the whole store, and there was only one package of dark, amidst literally dozens of types of milk chocolate. It was like the old joke about Ford: you can have any color you want, as long as it’s black. Here, you could choose any size and assortment of chocolates, as long as you like the milk chocolate variety.

I left empty handed, and tried a different store down the street. They didn’t have any dark chocolate packages either, but they helped me assemble a custom box from the dozens of dark chocolate pieces in the display case. I was quite pleased with this second store, and rather disappointed in the first one. The question comes down to this: what good is a massive assortment of products when they’re all basically the same thing?

I don’t care if something like 80% of customers want milk chocolate. If you have the shelf space to carry 100 different kinds of milk chocolate, it makes sense to hedge your bets and swap out a few slots for a couple of dark chocolate and even white chocolate options. The milk chocolate majority will still have plenty to choose from, and you can expand your customer base to include those who want other kinds of chocolate. The same holds for any business: if your selection is large but not very diverse, try swapping out some of those products for ones that will appeal to new groups of customers. The results might surprise you.